The bees do strange things right along with the 'normal' bee activity. Part of being a beekeeper is to help the little bugs do their thing without messing with them too much. They don't really like it so much when you take their house apart over and over again. Recently, both Maggie and I have had a considerable amount of bee weirdness that we're trying to fix without A. loosing the entire hive to swarming, B. accidentally killing the queen or queen cells that might replace a queen, who may have already left with half the hive, C. any other strange things, or D. all of the above.
I'll leave it to Maggie to tell her bee weirdness in another post, but here's a quickie timeline of what my bees have done.
- I put the second hive body on the hive on Father's Day.
- One month later, I checked the bees only to find that instead of building nice flat comb on the frames, they built 'wild comb' and stuck all the frames together. I had to scrape off all that comb so they could have another chance at making 'normal' looking comb.
- A week later, I checked again and they're building emergency queen cells and swarm queen cells, as well as comb in the second hive body. The comb looks better, but it's still far from ideal.
- We all concluded that plastic frames are no good, so I ordered wooden frames from a supplier in MN.
- I get the new frames and go to replace them only to find that the bees are extremely active and have pretty much filled in the second hive body with honey and brood. I decide not to replace the frames so that perhaps the bees will have a chance at storing enough food for winter.
- At the same time, I go through the entire hive TWICE looking for the queen. I can't find her, but there is evidence of her being there... lots and lots of eggs. I decide to remove all the queen cells because my queen is still in there somewhere, actively laying eggs and working her tail off.
- TODAY: I go to check to see if the queen is still laying eggs. She is. She's in there somewhere, but the workers are still creating swarm cells. There were 4 more today. Why, bees? Why are you building these cells if your queen is still laying eggs? (One theory is that the queens we got from the supplier were 'old' queens or from swarm hives and they've already got the idea to swarm, so that's all they're thinking about, which would trigger the workers to create new queens to replace the old queen when she decides to leave the hive).
Here are a few photos I've taken of my hive over time.
This is an early photo, from I believe my first hive inspection. I was so excited to see baby bees!
The queen is really tricky to find. When we took this photo, that was only the second time I had found her. The first was when I freed her from her little bee box when I set up the hive.
C'mon. How cool is it to watch a baby bee being born? Extra cool.
This is one of the interesting things they've built.. it's full of drone brood.
Look at that pollen! I'm still trying to figure out where they're getting this bright orange pollen. I thought maybe the orange day lilies, but their pollen is yellow. Also, a giant queen cell that I took off.
The hive back in the tall grass. Next year I hope to move the hive to a shadier spot and do some landscaping so the grass doesn't take over the hive. I'm sure the bees don't care, but I think it would be easier to take care of them without the grass getting stuck between the boxes and all over my gloves and growing up into the hive entrance etc.
So in about a week, I'll go out and check them again. I'm still a little worried about the queen, as the workers are trying to replace her with emergency and swarm queen cells, so I want to make sure she's still there and laying eggs. :)
Question for readers: Do you keep bees? If so, what kind of bee weirdness have you encountered, and how did you 'fix' the problem?